Thanks to the Sumthing Else label, western game music has been undergoing a mini-renaissance, with many soundtracks pressed to commercial discs in recent months (at least for Xbox games). Even if you have never played (or heard of) Kameo: Elements of Power, you'll find the score to be a pleasant surprise, full of symphonic and choral power.
Steve Burke's compositions are clearly influenced by Howard Shore's genre-defining fantasy effort in The Lord of the Rings, especially where the chorus is concerned. It's almost omnipresent, even at low registers, and really shines in tracks like "Hero's Theme" and "Ice Mountain Onslaught," lending the ensemble power. The presence of veteran composer and orchestrator Nic Raine is certainly a plus, as is the always-reliable City of Prague Philharmonic.
Burke's own voice, rather than Shore's influence, is most clearly heard in the quirky, smaller scale tracks. This results in tracks that are slightly off-kilter, but (especially when combined with a female solo voice) uniformly impressive and beautiful. "Enchanted Kingdom," an album highlight, combines the vocal with a minimal ensemble to produce a stunning lullaby, while "Crystal Cavern" uses that same vocalist to convey a chaotic and quirky feeling, like a maze of reflections in crystal. "The Snow Tribe" continues the quirky sound, without vocal accompaniment, and remains highly enjoyable.
If one had to fault the album, it would be for the lack of strong thematic material, and the tendency (especially in the latter half of the album) for cues to run together and begin to sound alike. "Hero's Theme" is the closest the album has to unifying thematic material, as it's referenced several times, but it is never boldly presented other than in its titular track.
The tail of the album is jam-packed with action cues, but these tend to be very similar: the chorus as backup and color, strong percussion hits, and a large volume of brass. But many of these tracks don't differentiate themselves well enough to be individually memorable, leaving less of an impression than the smaller-scale compositions.
On the whole, Burke's score is highly enjoyable, and well worth searching out. The album may have some shortcomings, but it is still very impressive, and I hope to see future efforts from the composer find their way to disc. While a generous selection is presented on the CD, fans should note that additional tracks are available as free downloads from the game's official site.